How to Place a Pick 3 Horse Racing Bet

Backing Winners

Learn About Pick 3′s in Horse Racing

Pick 3 bets are similar to the daily double, but require punters to pick three winners in a row instead of two. While it’s difficult to pick three winners in a row, the payout is much better than picking the winner of three individual races. These are very popular bets because bettors have a chance at taking home a nice payday with a relatively small wager. Pick 3 bets are offered at most live tracks and racebooks on the internet.

With their own betting pools, pick 3 bets offer good value to punters since there is only one takeout (commission for the track and government taxes). When betting on individual races, there is one takeout per race. In pick 3 bets, there is only one takeout instead of three. The takeout percentage is generally higher on pick 3 bets, but still considerably lower versus the total takeout from three individual bets.

In a standard pick 3 coupon, punters select one horse from each race, and each horse must win to produce a winning ticket. At most tracks and racebooks on the net, pick 3 bets have a minimum wager amount of £2.

Pick 3 tickets are usually offered on the first three races and last three races each day. Middle of the day pick 3’s are becoming more common as well – three races predetermined by the track. Some tracks also offer a rolling pick 3, where the punter chooses three consecutive races to bet on.


A pick 3 wheel allows punters to choose multiple horses in each race, and cost ½ the price of a standard pick 3. Instead of £2 minimum wagers, most tracks and betting sites offer pick 3 wheels for £1 per combination. For example, if you choose horse 2 for the first race, 3 & 7 for the second race, and 5 & 6 for the third race, there are 4 potential winning combinations (2-3-5, 2-3-6, 2-7-5, 2-7-6). This wager would cost £4.

To calculate the number of potential winning combinations (and cost), multiply the number of horses chosen for each race. In the example above, the math is 1 X 2 X 2, which makes this a £4 minimum bet. If you had two horses in the first race, two in the second, and three in the third, the math looks like this: 2 X 2 X 3 = 12. This bet would cost a minimum of £12.

How to Make the Most Money on Pick 3 Bets

When buying pick 3 wheels, remember that only one winning combination is possible. So, if you place a £36 pick 3, at least 35 of those bets will be losers. The absolute best value for a pick 3 is to select only one winning combination, but that makes it much more difficult to win. However, going too far to the other end of the spectrum can be very expensive, and a lot of value can be lost.

For punters who are wagering on the internet, over 100 international tracks are available almost every day of the year. On most days, punters can place between 100 – 300 completely unique pick 3 wagers, so there’s little reason to place devalued pick 3 wheels. Instead of placing three £18 pick 3 wheels, there is more value in placing 54 individual pick 3’s. All 54 combinations have a shot at winning, instead of just three.

When three favourites are selected, the payouts can be lower than you might imagine. The best payouts are achieved when a punter can correctly select at least one horse with higher value. The best way to do this is to identify the weakest favourite during the three races you’re betting on. For example, if you’re betting the early pick 3, find the favoured horse in each race and identify which of those favourites is most likely not to win. Then, select the horse who should have the best chance at beating him, who also carries higher odds. The payout can be increased significantly.

This philosophy can be multiplied even further when two of three favourites look susceptible to losing. For example, if you think two of the three favourites are likely to lose, and if you can correctly select higher-odds winners, the payday can be very good.

The ideal situation for winning big pick 3 bets is when you prefer horses that are not favoured in any of the races. If your first choices for each race are those who the public will not be heavily betting, the payouts can be much higher. In situations like these, look to increase your wager amount instead of adding multiple combinations on a wheel. Remember that £1 pick 3 wheels pay ½ of a standard £2 pick 3, so it’s better to increase your bet when the value is very high on a wager you feel confident in.

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